Three marketing musts for 2016

Margins are under pressure and resources are scarce, so your marketing dollars must pay significant dividends. Mark Amtower explains three things you must do in 2016.

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Margins continue to erode, competition for contracts and task orders is high, what’s a contractor to do? In 2016 for most contractors marketing dollars will be scarce, so the value for what you spend on marketing must pay significant dividends.

While there is no simple answer, on the marketing side there are three “must do’s” for 2016.

First, go mobile.

When was the last time you were at a meeting, any meeting, and people were not fidgeting with their cell phones or tablets?

You need to recognize how people are getting information, any information. The rise of mobile usage over the past few years has been huge and shows no sign of slowing down.

Is your marketing mobile friendly? Market Connections (www.marketconnectionsinc.com) 2015 Federal Marketing and Media Study has a slide showing federal smart phone and tablet usage growing from 63 percent in 2012 to 90 percent in 2015. The study also shows that usage of mobile devices occurs in all age groups. While those from 21-34 rank higher (96 percent), those 55 and older are not far behind (85 percent).

mobile use by age

Everything, including your web site, must become mobile friendly if your messages are to get through at all.

Second, deliver good content.

First a quick definition. Content is information that educates, discusses trends, highlights best practices, offers training, and other information the customer may find useful at any stage of the buying process – except sales collateral. Content is informative, not salesy.

In the 2012 Government Contractor Study, also from Market Connections showed companies producing and sharing “thought leadership” materials (white papers, case studies, webinars and the like) had higher win rates than other companies. That has not changed since the study was released.

Many studies since have shown that providing good content helps buyers make decisions. It also helps to differentiate your company, to drive sales into your pipeline, to influence the direction of an RFP, and more.

There are two ways to leverage content: develop your own, or share content produced by others. You can also do both. Either way you must be educated enough on the subject to have a point of view, your own spin on things.

most valuable digital content

If you are developing your own content, do so on a regular basis regardless of which outlet you choose: blogging, webinars, videos – whatever.  A regular basis does not necessarily mean daily, but try to produce something at least once or twice each month.

If you are sharing content from other sources, don’t simply post a link, curate the content. Point out what got your attention and why. Do you agree, disagree, have something to add? Say so, but don’t just post a link.

Third, social engagement.

Social media and social networks are part of the landscape and they cannot be ignored. LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, and Facebook are an integral part of how we connect and communicate. Leveraging social media to increase awareness for you and your company is critical and should be done with a purpose.

If you’ve read my articles or blog before, you know I am a LinkedIn advocate. I remain so, but because of all the changes on the platform recently, especially to groups and messaging, I am hedging my bets and spending a little more time on Google+.

That being said, it is easier to find Feds and contractors on LinkedIn, and it is easier to connect with them as well. Finding and connecting with buyers and influencers in key niches is do-able.

Add mobile, content and social to your to-do list for 2016 – and do them well.

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